Japan days 36 & 37
Japan days 36 & 37
Rishiri & Rebun Islands 150km
When the job is done and you start feeling de-mob happy, it’s always good to have a ‘digestif’ at the end of the feast of cycling. Heading over to Rishiri & Rebun Islands for a couple of days got me back on the bike, but not with the intensity of purpose of the long haul ride. It was a bit of purely recreational cycling, scooting along coastal roads, through countless fishing villages where kelp was hanging out to dry, and nipping along spits of land to get to a variety of capes, all with their own panoramic view
…but what I was not quite prepared for was the majestic dominance of the snow-covered Mt Rishiri
…that soared upwards from the centre of the island to a height of nearly 1,800 metres. Wherever you go on the island, it is there, brooding, refusing to shed its winter coat (some of which never melts), defying you to come and climb its slopes.
On the ferry between the two islands, a man sitting near me asked a few of the usual questions, then got up and disappeared. Five minutes later he presented me with a little bag, with a chocolate spread bun and a can of iced coffee
….the surprises just don’t stop coming.
When it came to choosing somewhere to sleep on the first night, I was determined to do a bit of stealth sleeping (comfortable hotels had been ruining me….), and when I passed a remote shrine with Mt Rishiri in the background, I was very tempted, everything about its situation was perfect, but….. it was several kms from a food source. In the end, I found this log cabin which served as a park information centre, all closed up for the winter but, surprisingly left unlocked
…overlooking the raging seas as the wind speeds dramatically increased during the night…and with Mt Rishiri providing the backdrop, I couldn’t believe my luck that I could sleep in relative warmth and comfort in the lower slopes of this mighty mountain.
In the morning, I thought I’d creep away unnoticed, but I’d forgotten about the early morning exercisers. At 5.30 a man climbed up to the cabin, peered in and, when he saw me, grinned and nodded his head in acknowledgement.
When I checked my emails at the local onsen I had used the previous day, my BBC weather app told me winds were going to increase in speed to 50mph (80kph), but when I set off to complete the circular tour of the island, I had the wind behind me….. little did I care about the strength of the wind….
Complacent that everything would be fine, I took a diversion and headed into the interior, up the mountain, passing well into the snow zone
….until the road deteriorated into a dirt track heading for the summit. When I turned to go back down, the descent was so fast I had to stop to tighten up the brakes before I could feel certain about letting myself merrily go …it almost felt I was on a ski run as I hurtled back down the mountain to the coast.
That was when the truth of the forecast hit me full in the face….the winds dramatically increased in speed, pulling me off the bike completely, sending my helmet cover flying across the road, and even preventing me from standing upright holding onto the bike. I had to take shelter……and wait for lulls in the storm before proceeding. I had 10km to get back to the ferry port, but I only got there through a mixture of cycling and walking…….the irony being, the last few hundred metres of my cycling in Japan were actually concluded on foot! The shame of it….
As I looked for somewhere to sleep tonight on the island, I was much amused by this…..
……not many metres from a highly ‘desireable’ bus shelter that could make an excellent bedroom…..check out the next post…. 🙂